A new California law restricts an employer’s right to seek access to existing or prospective employees’ social media accounts.
The law, Chapter 2.5 of Part 3 of Division 2 of the Labor Code (commencing with Section 980), defines “social media” for purposes of the new law to mean “an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.”
Under the new law, employers cannot request existing or prospective employees to disclose either a username or password, to access a personal social media account in the presence of the employer, or to divulge any personal social media. It is also unlawful to retaliate against an employee or applicant for refusing such a request.
Important exceptions to the law are (1) where divulging social media is “reasonably believed” to be relevent to an investigation of an employee’s violation of law or allegations of employee misconduct; and (2) if done for the purpose of accessing an employer-issued electronic device.